Prison Break — Are detention facilities and prisons coming to an end? Probably not, but they’ve certainly experienced some setbacks. On Friday, a federal judge ordered family detention centers to release children (with their mothers, preferably) “without unnecessary delay,” according to court papers obtained by the Associated Press. “Calling the government’s latest arguments ‘repackaged and reheated,’ [the judge] found the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in breach of a longstanding legal agreement stipulating that immigrant children cannot be held in unlicensed secured facilities, and gave agency officials until October 23 to comply.” It’s not clear yet if or how the government will appeal the decision. Meanwhile, there was a prison shake-up in the private sector. The San Antonio Express-News has an interesting look at the end of the for-profit prison boom. “The bust is evident on a rural tour of the state, where more than a dozen once-profitable facilities have failed. At least seven of them, which together borrowed nearly $200 million, are in arrears on bond payments,” according to the piece. Although the U.S. throws people in jail at a rate greater than any other developed nation, it seems there are a number of factors—changes in immigration detention policies, a shift from the lock-’em-all-up approach of the war on drugs—leading to this decline.
The Kids’ Books Are All Right — It seems that the dustup over the content of our history books may have been a tad overblown. “It turns out most of the textbook publishers did a better job than expected, even by the standards of the loudest critic of the state’s guidelines. Texas students will indeed learn that slavery was a primary cause of the Civil War. And they’ll learn that Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan existed to disenfranchise African-Americans, two things that the state’s guidelines don’t explicitly require students to learn,” writes the Austin American-Statesman, which proudly notes that it “reviewed the actual textbooks, something that few journalists have done.” The story reminds us all that this debate, which often devolves into a conservative versus progressive wrestling match, is one as old as time (or at least 2010, when the state reconsidered its book options). Some history books, like those from Pearson Education, don’t cover the whole slavery thing that well because, ironically, “their content aligns too much with the state board’s standards.” Others, like McGraw-Hill Education, were very clear about how messed up Jim Crow laws were. Either way, “some educators who have reviewed the textbooks say they don’t see huge bias in them.”
Storm’s Comin’ — When it rains, it pours. In Texas’s case, this will be a literal life lesson. Just coming out of the drought, the state must now prepare for, thanks to El Nino, what will basically be monsoon season. “In Texas, this shifts the jet stream farther south and brings more average precipitation in the form of rain and snow,” writes the Amarillo Globe-News. Experts are pretty certain the wet weather will be around for the winter and “85 percent” certain it will last through the spring. The problem now, both Amarillo and statewide, is one drought-stricken Texas never thought it would have—where to store the excess water. Already, “street crews are preparing for a possible harder winter than normal and may be doing more repair work on the streets.” In related “water, water, everywhere, nor any a useful drop” news, the Brownsville Herald takes a dive into shrimp season, which, unfortunately, looks a little dry. Already-low shrimp export prices have plummeted. “Plus, this season’s shrimp harvest is expected to be poor, in part due to heavy spring rains that washed young shrimp out to sea too early,” the piece details. Officials and industry leaders are focusing on a public awareness campaign to encourage Texans to eat the local decapods, as opposed to cheaper foreign options from, say, Louisiana.
School Daze — Texas Tech isn’t off to the most ideal start of a school year. Following last year’s issues like a student death and the embarrassing “No Means Yes” controversy, the university “has boosted its oversight of fraternities and sororities in time for this year’s fall recruitment,” writes the Texas Tribune. The 39 new policy changes include “shortened new member orientation periods, stricter sanctions for rule violations and increased education on planning safer social events,” according to “a report released this month that will affect almost every aspect of Greek life at the Lubbock university of more than 35,000 students.” And that’s not the only groundbreaking move happening at Texas Tech. The El Paso Times has a look at the university’s clinic for transgender children, which opened in April. It’s a great look into what the clinic does. In completely unrelated news, this will be the University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley’s first year, and people couldn’t be more excited. The McAllen Monitor has a brief look at how this grand RGV project came together.